Monday, October 31, 2016

A wonderful weekend at the couples' retreat

This photo was taken from inside the gazebo.
On a weekend in mid-October we had the blessing of attending the 2016 couples' retreat at The Wilds of New England.  What a wonderful time it was!  We came away determined to make this a part of every fall.  I don't think we have missed a couples' retreat since TWNE started having them, so we're off to a good start.

The retreat got off to a fun start for us as we walked into the office to check in.  Coming out was an old friend we have known for 30 years but had never seen at TWNE.  What a joy to find that he and his wife were there with some of our newer friends, a younger couple we'd met at a retreat a few years back.

Our first stop was the coffee shop where we each enjoyed a decaf maple coffee.
 Soon it was time for supper.  What a wonderful meal -- if I could only remember what was served!  As always, we enjoyed the attractive fall decor on tables and windowsills.

In case you can't tell what's in the goblet, it's a floating candle in water.  Then a sunflower, pine cones, and bittersweet complete the arrangement.  I really like the idea of floating a candle in a water goblet.  I have some floating candles on hand, too, so I might just do something similar for Thanksgiving!

The retreat speakers were Jim and Pat Berg, and the teaching on marriage was just excellent.  They spoke on "Marriage in 3D"-- Jim taught three of these sessions to the assembled group of husbands and wives, and there was a split session on Saturday morning where he taught the husbands and Pat taught the wives.
Leaf line courtesy of my friend Vee
So, back to Friday night.  We enjoyed such a hilarious fun time with lots of laughter over skits and cowboy songs.  The rest of the evening was then worshipful and instructive as we were blessed by a lovely song service and then Jim Berg's teaching from God's Word.

Friday night's session of "Marriage in 3D" was titled Design: What does God intend for us and our marriages?  God has pictures in mind for us to develop and display.  I wish that I could just copy my notes to share with all of you, but that would take too long.  However, I will try to keep it basic, so here are some of the key points as I jotted them down.
*  God intended that human beings picture something -- His image.
*  God intends for human marriage to be a picture of  Christ's relationship to His bride -- the church.
*  God intends that people -- including our children -- be drawn to Him through the influence of our lives.
* God intended every generation of children to have within their own homes a portrait of how Christ and His church love and minister to one another.
* Marriage is a covenant -- a promise -- to develop and display, through mutual, loving ministry to each other, the relationship of Christ to His bride, for the blessing of all who behold.
One of the concluding statements was this: "The most important pictures in our homes are not the ones on the walls."   Think about that for a bit.
We left with much food for thought and returned to our hotel for the night.  In the morning, we ate a nice breakfast at the hotel and got back to TWNE just as the coffee shop opened.  Perfect time for another maple coffee!

View from Cool Beans window (I think)
Our next session by Jim Berg was titled Disintegration: What went wrong for us and our marriages?  
* Through Satan's deception and man's disobedience in the garden, Satan vandalized the portrait of God in man with devastating results.  (The Fall initiated profound and tragic losses into the life of every human being.)
* God is working in our lives to restore that vandalized portrait.

This session also gave much information from secular experts on marriage and why marriages fail.  It was  very helpful.  There are four attitudes/actions that can doom any marriage:
• Criticism (an attack on the other spouse's character)
• Defensiveness (any attempt to defend oneself from a perceived attack)
* Contempt (sarcasm is contempt thinly disguised)
* Stonewalling (when one person just won't talk)
What all of these attitudes/actions have in common is a lack of humility.  Real men run to the problem (with humility), not away from it.
The next session was the split session in which Pat Berg taught the ladies.  Her session was titled Understanding Our Role as Wife.  She pointed out two important facts about our role as wife right at the beginning.
* It's not our only role. (we might be sisters, mothers, daughters, pianists, teachers, etc.)
* It's not our primary role.  (It is secondary to our calling as a redeemed child of God.

We cannot walk in our role as wife unless we are walking in the Spirit -- simply obeying what God says in the Bible. 

She also pointed out what God intended as the role of a wife as He stated it in Genesis before the Fall:
* Her husband's companion ("It is not good that man should be alone" -- Genesis 2:10)
* Her husband's helper ("I will make him an help meet for him." Genesis 2:18)
Both of these had so many subheadings under them -- so very helpful!  How I wish I could share it all with you!

The last part of the session dealt with our identity as a part of the bride of Christ (in the analogy between human marriage and the relationship between Christ and His church). It also was excellent. 
View from upstairs
From there, we met up with our husbands and went to have God and I Time together.  We were to read a chapter of  James together, if I remember right, in preparation for the last session, and to have a time of prayer together.  Mr. T and I went upstairs in the [closed] coffee shop -- our favorite place for God and I time -- to have our quiet time together.

Soon it was time for lunch. 

Possibly waiting for the lunch bell
We enjoyed make your own sandwiches with croissants, turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc., along with chips, and bowls of homemade corn chowder.  Dessert was warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies!
The afternoon was ours for free time.  Mr. T and I are not used to free time to use as we wish in a relaxing way.  It was just plain fun to casually say, "Oh, let's have an ice cream," or, "Let's go for a walk."  Our first activity was a hayride.  We enjoyed the ride, and great fellowship with a pastor and his wife seated next to us.

Often when we come to TWNE, Mr. T will take a ride (or two!) on the zipline.  This time he decided to skip that, so we did other relaxing things together.  We enjoyed pumpkin nor'eastahs (like a blizzard or flurry) in the Sweet Shoppe, relaxed in the gazebo,

Footbridge leading to the gazebo
walked around the property, took a few photos, and enjoyed another coffee (hazelnut this time).  After our walk, he got another nor'eastah later (apple pie, this time!) and I got an Italian cream soda (raspberry peach, and I highly recommend it!).
Our last session with Jim Berg was Discipleship: Become a reconciler like Christ.  Here are some important thoughts: "The quality of a marriage is only as good as the quality of the husband and wife within the marriage.  To strengthen the marriage, we must develop the people.  The gospel confronts our self-centeredness head on and offers a remedy -- our growth in Christlikeness through progressive sanctification."

I'll just jot down the main points of this session, most from the book of James:
• How we respond to temptation exposes our hearts (James 1)
• How we treat others who are different from us exposes our hearts (James 2)
• Our speech exposes our hearts (James 3)
• Our battles and quarrels with others expose our hearts (James 4)
• Only God's Spirit using God's sufficient Word can change our hearts and relationships.
(The Spirit of God using the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.)
There was more, much more.  Following another delicious meal, we headed home.  It had been a fantastic weekend with good food, great fellowship, plenty of downtime and challenging, excellent teaching from God's Word.  As we drove home discussing what we had learned and how we had already been blessed by it, we were more convinced than ever that a couples' retreat ought to be on every couple's yearly agenda.  It definitely will be on ours!


  1. It sounds wonderful!

  2. It was, Jan! Such a blessing to both of us! We are so blessed to have a place like The Wilds of New England here in our state.

  3. It sounds great...good teaching, good fellowship...good loving husband...a great big wonderful are blessed.

    1. I know it, Vee. Blessed beyond measure. I don't take any of it for granted.

  4. From Arlene (whose comment I deleted by accident):

    "Sounds like a perfect weekend Mrs T. And when you talk about that coffee shop, I want to go there."

    1. It was a wonderful weekend, Arlene. It got off to sort of an odd start. I just felt out of sorts for some reason, and somewhat discouraged. But God worked in my heart and we both ended up so thankful for all that the weekend held.

      You and Marvin need to come up to New England during "fall retreat season" and you can visit that coffee shop for yourself. Love the coffee and the ambiance. This year they have added a porch to Cool Beans with cafe tables and chairs. Makes it even nicer!


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